The Vriesea splendens or Bromelia is an evergreen, epiphytic plant native to Central and South America. It looks like a dense rosette of fleshy leaves, long and narrow, stiff, dark green, crossed transversely by brown bands. From the center of the rosette a colored stem is raised, which in summer carries a long inflorescence consisting of bracts and red, white or pink flowers; when the flowers wither, the colored bracts surrounding them remain on the stem for months. If the plant is grown in a suitable place it also produces small fruits, containing numerous seeds.
It belongs to the Bromeliad family, composed of about 200 different species of epiphytic plants, all appreciated for their ornamental character, given by the particular leaves and, above all, by the characteristic inflorescences.
Bromeliad plants generally need very bright places, away from direct sunlight, as in nature they are plants that grow in the undergrowth. In the warm seasons they can be placed outside, in the shade of other plants; in winter, on the other hand, they must be kept indoors, as they fear the cold very much.
The Vriesea splendens are, therefore, cultivated as houseplants and should be placed in an area where they can receive a few hours of sunlight, but not direct rays, especially during the hottest hours.
From March to October abundantly water the Vriesea splendens, both on the ground and in the cone formed by the rosette of leaves, always keeping the substratum slightly damp but carefully checking that there are no water stagnations, as this plant does not tolerate them; with the arrival of cold weather, drastically reduce watering by supplying water every 20-25 days.
In the vegetative period, supply a balanced fertilizer every 15-20 days with the water used for watering.
The water must not be calcareous, therefore, it is good to use rainwater or demineralized water.
These plants are epiphytic, that is, they are plants that usually live on other plants, therefore they need a particular soil; they can be successfully grown in a mixture of universal soil and substrate for orchids or with a mixture of soil, peat, sand and pine bark.
It is essential that the soil in which they are placed is well draining as they do not bear the stagnation of water that quickly leads to the onset of root rot.
If the plant produces it, the multiplication of the Vriesea splendens can be successfully carried out by seed, much more often though the bromeliad plants propagate by detaching from the mother plant the shoots that develop on the side of the rosette of leaves; It is good to wait for these sprouts to have a length of at least 15 cm. The new plants should be immediately repotted in individual containers, containing a mixture of sand, peat and incoherent material.
Bromelia - Vriesea splendens: Pests and diseases
Bromeliad plants are often affected by red spider mites and cochineal; if the watering is excessive, and the poorly draining soil can happen that the plant is hit by root rot. To eliminate the cochineal, if its presence is not excessive, it is possible to intervene with the use of a cloth with alcohol to pass manually on the leaves. For the red spider it can be a good remedy to increase the environmental humidity.
The leaves of the plant are an excellent indicator of the state of health of the plant and on the fact that a good place of cultivation has been chosen; if they lose their mottle, it means that the plant is in a too shaded area, if they fade, it means that there is too much light.